BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Meet Madi Denton. The Burlington teen is the National Stuttering Association’s Kid of the Year.
"Stuttering is inspirational," said Denton. "It's fun for me to be a role model and for kids to look up to me as a stutterer and as a person.”
Madi received the award this summer in Dallas.
"From going from not feeling good about who she is to helping others,” said Madi’s mom, Sara Denton. “It gives me a great sense of pride."
The eighth-grader wrote letters to the American Girl Doll company, suggesting they create a character like her.
"This year, they came out with the 'Girl of the Year,' being Gabriela, who has a stutter,” said Denton.
Madi also mentors children at support groups for Burlington's chapter of the National Stuttering Association.
"Once they come there, they can see, hey, I'm not alone. And there's other kids like me, and there's teen groups and adult groups," said Danra Kazenski, the chapter’s leader.
The 13-year-old was on Church Street Thursday to celebrate the end of the organization's summer camp. She's become a role model for countless young people.
"It just doesn't always get out clearly," said Elias Assur of South Burlington, who also has a stutter. "I have a set of tools to help."
The National Stuttering Association says there are 3 million Americans and 6,000 Vermonters with a stutter.
"You're not alone to stutter. If you know someone who stutters, take your time. Have them take their time. Don't interrupt them. Just be yourself,” said Madi.
Madi's latest goal is to fundraise to bring members of her chapter to the National Stuttering Conference next year. She's past the idea of fixing her stutter. Instead, she's happy to embrace it and teach others about communicating successfully.